THE PREPPY MURDER: DEATH IN CENTRAL PARK
Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
SundanceTV (November 2019)
An in-depth examination of the notorious 1986 murder of Jennifer Levin and the media circus that surrounded the case.
After the body of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin was discovered strangled to death in Central Park by a cyclist, the police quickly retraced her movements from the previous night to Dorian’s, a bar on the Upper East Side popular with the neighborhood’s elite youth. Witnesses saw Levin leaving with 19-year-old Robert Chambers. When police confronted Chambers, he had noticeable scratches, changed his story several times, and eventually concocted a preposterous story that Levin raped him and her death was in self-defense. Despite the ludicrous nature of his claims – Chambers was 6’5″, while Levin only 5’4″ and about 100 lbs lighter than him – the tabloids ate up his story, seduced by his all-American looks and well-heeled background (largely manufactured by his mother), and all-too-eager to blame the victim, who was painted as promiscuous and obsessed with Chambers. Over the course of their well-researched series, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg methodically lay out the specifics of the case as well as the parallel character assassination of Levin in the media, demonstrating the intersection of misogyny, classism, and the double standard applied to sexually-active women, obviously still unfortunately relevant today.